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By MARGIE ADAMS
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phil 1:3
Most of us have had someone close pass away. My family is pretty fortunate in that our losses have been those in advanced years. Every once in a while, there is someone in the community that I have gotten to know, then find they have left us way too soon.
Life expectancy is relative to many factors over our lifespan. For instance, in the year I was born, 71 years was a good long life. Today it is close to 81 years. In Jesus’ time, if you lived to be an adult and were not poor, you might hope for 50-plus years on this earth.
Jesus’ mother Mary may have been in her mid-40s when he was crucified on the cross at the age of 33.
Saying goodbye has been with us since the beginning. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful.” Ps 73:26.
November is the month of Remembrance. We reflect on our memories of times gone by. It is the time when we bring to mind those that we have loved. Liturgically, it is a time when we say goodbye to our friends and family members who have died and remember those who have gone before us.
The withering trees and their falling leaves are a dramatic backdrop for the time when the earth goes quiet, allowing us to shed tears and hold our thoughts close. It also can be a time when we consider our own mortality and the legacy that we hope to leave behind.
At Thanksgiving we bring out the recipes that have been passed down to us, remembering our long-ago families in tastes and smells. It’s a time we can tell family stories and teach the young ones about the grandmother who first wrote down that apple pie recipe or the grandfather who built the dinner table. We may share a holiday blessing —one that has been handed down through the decades.
It is also a time when we may think of our own mortality and what we might leave for future generations. It may be something creative or symbolic — perhaps planting a tree or a flower bed.
It has been noted that such legacies also help those who remain to cope with their loss.
Remembering can be sad but it also can be life-giving. When we gather together in relationship and weep with one another, sharing stories or helping each other get through another day — that is life-giving.
For those who have lost someone dear this year, there will be a coming together for a memorial service at 4 p.m, on Saturday, Nov. 24 at The Plaza mall. Ketchikan Medical Center Spiritual Care and Volunteer Hospice will hold a service of song, reflection and prayer, as well as the reading of the names. This can be a time of comfort and togetherness, of remembrance and thanksgiving around the Hospice Tree.
We never have to stop loving them; we can speak to their spirit and feel their presence always. Our memories are our most important possessions, no one can take them away.
Margie Adams is staff chaplain of PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.